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March 2, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – At the mid-point of February, Black History Month, Sister Jamie Phelps, OP, gave a presentation on African American spirituality – rooted in the spirituality of Africans – and of the need for all spiritualities and all people to be accepted and valued as gifts of God. 

Sister Jamie’s talk was part of a series of monthly presentations on spirituality, coordinated by the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Spirituality Committee. Her talk was a live stream presentation on February 16, 2021.

An Adrian Dominican Sister since 1959, Sister Jamie is a theologian, currently residing at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian. She served for eight years as the Director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies and was the Katherine Drexel Professor of Systematic Theology at Xavier University in New Orleans. Before that, she taught theology in Chicago at the Catholic Theological Union (CTU) from 1986 to 1998 and Loyola University, 1998 to 2003. Sister Jamie has also served as a visiting professor of theology at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, from January to May, 2003, and twice at the University of Notre Dame: in 2005-2006 and 2012-2013. 

“My assumption is that we’re all human beings, but depending on where we were raised, where we were born, what city, what environment we were raised in, we experience God in different ways,” Sister Jamie began. “Spirituality is a reflection on how we relate to God.”

Sister Jamie spent much of her presentation describing the African world view, the root of the world view of African Americans. For Africans, identity is rooted in the community – not the individual. Their concept of time is “that of the eternal now,” in which life, death, and immorality are circular and interconnected, she said. In this worldview, she said, “everything that is, is connected – connected to each other and to the source of their being, God.” 

When African slaves encountered Christianity, they “incorporated aspects that eased their burden of captivity,” Sister Jamie explained. She gave the example of slaves in Latin America and in the Caribbean, who found that elements of Catholic tradition resonated with their tradition of intercessions and recognition of God’s presence. “Catholicism denied this mixing as a false syncretism,” she said. “But now the Church recognizes enculturation – discovering in your culture, in your way of being, the God who is present, and expressing this using the symbols and traditions that are part of your cultural history.”

Watch a recording of Sister Jamie’s presentation below.


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January 3, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Susan Van Baalen, OP, PhD, offers “Understanding Islam,” a series of talks aimed at helping participants understand Muslims in the United States and around the world. The talks are at Weber Retreat and Conference Center from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays, January 21, 2020, through February 11, 2020.

The schedule for the series is as follows:

  • January 21, 2020: Introduction to Sunni and Shia Muslims and Ethnic Kurds. Sister Susan reviews the pillars of Islam and the differences in beliefs and practices of the Sunni and Shia Muslims throughout the world.

  • January 28, 2020: Geo-Political Islam. Sister Susan describes the ways that geography, economics, and politics shape the Islamic world.

  • February 4, 2020: Exactly Who Are American Muslims? This session identifies the common characteristics of U.S. Muslims and the richness of their diverse beliefs and practices.

  • February 11, 2020: Islamic Extremism. Sister Susan explores how Islamic extremism is more closely tied to geopolitics than to religion and discusses Shia extremism identified as Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

Sister Susan developed an interest in world religions while creating and implementing policies and procedures to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of more than 100,000 prisoners throughout the United States.

The cost is $30 for the series or $10 for individual sessions. Registration is required and is available at www.webercenter.org; click on “programs.” Registration is also available by calling 517-266-4000 or emailing webercenter@adriandominicans.org. Limited scholarships are available.

Weber Center is on the campus of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse, 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive, Adrian. Enter the Eastern-most driveway of the complex and follow the signs to Weber Center. For information, call the Weber Center at 517-266-4000.


 

 

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